Middle Eastern Chopped Salad


2 cups finely chopped Italian parsley (approximately 2 bunches)
3/4 cup chopped, pitted kalamata, Greek, or niçoise olives (about 1 ¼ cups with pits)
1/2 cup minced scallion (about 1 bunch)
1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato (2 large)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili flake
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper (to taste)


Preheat the oven to 325° F.
Place the nuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes until they begin to emit a toasted nut aroma. Cool completely before using the nuts in the recipe.
Remove the stems from the parsley and mince either by hand or with quick pulses in a food processor. The parsley should be finely minced, but if you use a food processor be careful not to purée it. The parsley should form a fluffy base for the other textures.
Chop the olives, walnuts, and scallions by hand into a rough dice. Dice the prepared tomatoes and drain.
Combine all of the chopped ingredients. Toss in a large wooden bowl with the olive oil, fresh lemon juice, cumin, and chili flakes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.




I've been making this salad for over 30 years with undiminished enthusiasm. Honestly. And I've always treasured the way it came into my kitchen. When she found out that I really loved to cook, an elderly Armenian neighbor described this intriguing salad from her parents village in vivid detail. No recipe, just hand gestures and sound effects.

I fooled around with the combination of textures and ingredients she outlined until I finally came up with this fantastic, crunchy salad that I've made for nearly every potluck and casual holiday occasion since.

This recipe obviously has a lot going for it to keep me devoted for all these years: it's unique; it holds up well in a picnic basket or on a buffet; and people love it. Honestly. In fact it was the salad that seemed just right for the Artisan Beef tasting dinner I hosted on Tuesday. And I'm taking it to a Rosh Hashanah dinner tonight.

I was able to make this with the parsley and green onions from my garden and my friend Karen's tomatoes. But, this basic salad can be served year round by anyone because the real cornerstones—parsley, walnuts and good olives—never go out of season. In the winter, I replace the tomatoes with chopped radishes, carrots or avocado (I know they're probably not local where you live, here either. But I'm sorry, I'm addicted).

The earthy flavors of this salad are best chilled but not cold, and it can be held up to 24 hours before serving. This simple recipe is the place to splurge with the best extra virgin olive oil, like California's Apollo, and freshly squeezed lemon juice—it really shows.


8.0 appetizer servings


Monday, November 30, 2009 - 4:57pm


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